British Airways Rolls Out Free WiFi – In First Class

It seems that British Airways is finally upping their standards. After unveiling a brand new (and stunning) business class product, British Airways is also making improvements to their First Class product. In this case, British Airways will reportedly roll out free WiFi for First Class passengers.

British Airways First Class passengers may soon receive free onboard WiFi. Photo: British Airways

What we know

The news first appeared on FlyerTalk where a user posted that they received information of British Airways offering free WiFi to all First Class passengers. While the details are scarce, this would imply a major boost for passengers who like to stay connected while up in the air.

BA Wifi Onboard
This is excellent news for passengers who wish to stay connected while flying. Photo: British Airways

British Airways and WiFi

British Airways lags when it comes to offering onboard WiFi. By 2019, British Airways expects 90% of their fleet to offer inflight WiFi. Even then, British Airways does not indicate whether or not WiFi is available onboard until you are told by your cabin crew.

Moreover, WiFi is only available above 10,000 feet, which lags significantly compared to those airlines offering gate-to-gate WiFi. In addition, British Airways onboard WiFi does not allow you to switch from one device to another on the same package.

British Airways 747s at Heathrow
British Airways expects 90% of their fleet to offer onboard wifi by 2019. Photo: British Airways

Why is British Airways doing this?

Long-haul premium passengers are one of the most important markets for British Airways. By offering free WiFi to their First Class passengers, British Airways is essentially marketing First Class to business travelers who want to stay connected on a long-haul flight.

British Airways A318
British Airways operates an all-business A318 between London and New York. Photo: British Airways

The transatlantic market is one of the toughest markets in terms of competition. This is especially true on the coveted New York to London route. On a daily basis, there are well over 30 flights per day scheduled to operate between the two cities.

These two cities are high demand pairs for business travelers who would be willing to a pay a premium for an elevated flying experience. British Airways First Class fits the bill. However, with plenty of other airlines offering WiFi onboard in their cabins, British Airways needed to do something more than just offer it. They have to offer it for free. After all, if someone is paying $9,000 for a ticket in First Class, free WiFi is one way British Airways can thank their passengers for choosing them.

Overall

Some airlines are catching on that passengers like WiFi. Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines offer free inflight messaging for all cabin classes. Singapore Airlines offers a given amount of free WiFi to Suites and Business class passengers, and SAS and Turkish Airlines offer free WiFi in business. Even struggling Alitalia offers free WiFi to their Magnifica business class and Premium Economy passengers, and low cost airline Norwegian even offers free WiFi!

Ultimately, British Airways isn’t starting a trend, rather they are joining in with one. Someday, all passengers can hope that free inflight WiFi in all cabin classes will be the norm, especially as some airlines continue to rip out seatback entertainment screens.

On the other hand, with some of BA’s long-haul fleet lacking First Class, we’ll have to see if British Airways decides to offer something for their Club Suite passengers.

What do you make of this new development? Are you more likely to choose an airline if they offer onboard WiFi? Let us know in the comments!

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